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Spring 2018 growing season compromised by drought

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • June 2018
Spring 2018 growing season compromised by drought

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  • Key Messages
  • CONTEXTE NATIONAL
  • Key Messages
    • The rainy season began in April and in some regions in May However, subsequent dry spells hit maize and bean crops at a critical stage in their development. This means there are likely to be significant harvest losses for the spring 2018 growing season.

    • However, the income sources for the poorest are still stable, due to the diversity of the activities they engage in, which includes agricultural work in the Dominican Republic, remittances from the Haitian diaspora, petty trade and charcoal production.

    • Food prices are high and fuel prices are expected to be adjusted. The depreciation of the gourde/US dollar exchange rate (10 percent fall compared to the last six months) is expected to worsen.

    • During the outlook period, most livelihood zones will remain in their current state: Minimal and Stressed (IPC Phases 1 and 2).Durant la période de perspective, la plupart des zones de moyens d'existence resterait dans leur état actuel : situations Minimale et de Stress (phases 1 et 2 de l’IPC).


    CONTEXTE NATIONAL

    Current Situation

    Climate assessment and outlook

    After a good start to the rainy season in April and May, many farmers introduced maize and bean crops. However, a period of drought followed in June, which is a critical time for these crops.

    The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI, Figure 1) shows the poor condition of the vegetation.

    Impact on seasonal agricultural production

    The spring 2018 growing season started well due the rains in April and May, when beans, maize and other crops were sown. But the end of the rain at the end of this month raises the specter of major harvest losses given that this is happening at a time when maize plantations are in the heading phase, and beans are already producing pods. This issue is particularly prevalent in the Sud (coastal areas), the Sud-Est (Belle-Anse and wetlands), the Centre (Haut-Plateau) and the Ouest (Arcahaie, Thomazeau).

    The situation is slightly different in irrigated plains, where a few maize harvests are reported, in humid mountains (e.g. La Vallée, Bainet) where plants take advantage of soil moisture to grow, in Grande Anse and in certain mountain areas where spring sowing was early. As a result, by the time the drought occurred in April and May, the harvests had already taken place and farmers were already planning to launch a new growing season in June/July.

    Food availability

    Despite the situation developing throughout the country, there were normal harvests of bananas, root vegetables and tubers, particularly in Grande Anse, Sud and Sud-Est (e.g. Valley and Bainet) and their market availability is good. Despite some maize and bean harvests in Grand Anse, the Cayes plain and other regions, the overall availability of these commodities is falling. Fruits, such as soursop, avocado, citrus fruits and mangoes, are available but only in small quantities. On the whole, the markets are well supplied, though mostly through imports.

    Price trends

    Between April and May 2018, prices for local maize, imported rice and black peas remained stable at the national level. In addition, with the exception of imported rice (more than 17 percent more expensive in May 2018 compared to May 2017), prices of local black beans and local maize are below the previous year’s level (-5 and -9 percent respectively). However, these prices are above their 5-year average, particularly for imported rice for the Croix-des-Bossales market (see Figure 2a).

    At the same time, although it remains high, the inflation rate in Haiti, of which the food weighting (food, beverages and

     tobacco category) is approximately 60 percent, exhibits a downward trend in recent months, according to the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics (IHSI).

    Animal production

    Precipitation during April and May assisted the development of animal forage, allowing livestock farmers to feed their animals properly. Thus, herding is at a normal level. However, both Teschen and Newcastle disease continue to affect the swine and avian populations respectively.

    Demand and supply of agricultural labor

    The agricultural activities carried out from March to May, during the spring growing season, are decreasing and will have to resume in July and August as part of the summer growing season. Thus, current demand for agricultural workers is relatively low in most regions. Labor costs remain stable, however.

    Meanwhile, in some regions, particularly border regions, agricultural workers continue to migrate temporarily (in some cases permanently) in search of better working conditions. Those who remain are less and less interested in agricultural activities, instead turning to the common practice of motorcycle transportation (moto taxi) or other activities.

    Other sources of income

    To supplement their income, poor households also turn to trading agricultural and non-agricultural products, as well as producing and selling charcoal. According to the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH), the volume of migrant remittances increased by approximately 21 percent in March compared to the previous year, having already amounted to over $700 million in 2018. It should also be noted that the very poor do not receive remittances directly but can benefit from them, since part of these funds is channeled into agricultural production and other income-generating activities (construction, petty trade, etc.).

    Moreover, despite the lack of accurate data on this area, the transfer of workers from the Dominican Republic is expected to increase, in view of the steady demand for Haitian workers in the agricultural sector in the neighboring republic.

    Nutrition

    The results of the Survey on Mortality, Morbidity and Use of Services (EMMUS-VI) show, for November 2016-April 2017, a low prevalence of acute malnutrition in the country and even an improvement over the past decade. According to the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in 2016 and 2017, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM), measured by weight/height ratio, was 4.7 percent in 2016 and 3.7 percent in 2017.

    Assumptions

    The most likely national scenario for June 2018 to January 2019 is based on the following assumptions:

    • Seasonal forecasts. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other meteorological institutes (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CARICO, etc.), El Niño conditions indicate that precipitation should be lower than normal during the first outlook period, June-September 2018, but become more regular as the season progresses. From October onwards, conditions could be more regular, with precipitation below or equal to normal, until January 2019.
    • Spring harvest outlook. In most agroecological areas of the country, the anticipated rainfall conditions for the period would not lead to good spring harvests of seasonal crops such as maize or beans.
    • The summer and winter growing seasons are expected to have below average, but regular rainfall, which is expected to yield average results.
    • Agricultural labor: The demand for agricultural laborers for the spring harvest is expected to fall below normal due to poor results but is expected to return to normal levels for summer and winter campaigns activities.
    • Other sources of income. Wood and charcoal production could increase as a result of lower incomes from spring crops. Small-scale business activities, which are highly dependent on harvest performance, particularly in rural areas, are expected to slow down due to the poor performance of the spring 2018 growing season.
    • Remittances sent by temporary migrants may increase during both outlook periods in response to the losses of the spring growing season.
    • Prices of imported and local food. Local food prices will maintain their current level, particularly maize and beans, whose prices are close to the average. On the other hand, prices of imported food products will remain high (see figure 2).
    • Private remittances from the diaspora Remittances from the Haitian diaspora could increase slightly in response to the poor spring harvests.
    • Exchange rate developments. The gourde/dollar exchange rate depreciated further, despite interventions by monetary authorities and increased private transfers. Despite the injection of $30 million into the foreign exchange market by the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) last May, this trend is not expected to reverse.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From June to September, market supplies should be normal for imported products, but the availability of local products may be reduced. Demand for agricultural labor is also expected to decline due to the poor spring growing season. However, it has been clear for some time that the supply of agricultural labor is decreasing in favor of other income-generating activities, such as urban migration or migration to the Dominican Republic. Finally, some of the poorest households will intensify coping strategies such as cutting wood for charcoal. Food consumption should not be severely affected, but the poor and those living in the poorest households will find it difficult to cover their non-food expenditures. Taking into account the situation which is currently developing, most of the regions could find themselves in a Stressed situation (IPC phase 2),

    The period from October to January coincides with the summer-fall harvests and with the launch of the winter growing season. During this period, consumption should remain at a more or less normal level, partly because of harvests, but also due to labor income and other activities (petty trade, sale of livestock, migrant remittances, etc.) which should facilitate access to local and imported food products. Part of the country (Artibonite, Grande-Anse, etc.) could have Minimal food insecurity (IPC phase 1) and the rest could be in the Stress (IPC phase 2).

    Figures Le Nord-Est, l'Ouest et le sud-ouest indiquent une végétation plus affectée que la médiane.

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Le prix se trouve en dessous de 155 en février et mars, remonte au-dessus de 170 en avril et doit demeurer stable le restant

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Le prix demeure entre 250 et 300, à un niveau proche de la moyenne quinquennale et de l'année dernière,

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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